Christopher Wilson – Case Study, Germany 1969

“The John Speak Trust Scholarship was of great benefit to me personally and also to my career; a very useful and informative six months”

At the age of 18, I was fortunate to receive a John Speak Language Trust Scholarship for six months.  This allowed me to travel to Germany to improve my study of the language and further my career in the wool trade.  At the time I was working for the family business C.L. Wilson & Co Limited, a Wool & Noil Merchants based in Bradford.

Being so young at the time, I was appreciative of a lift by car to my new surroundings in Kaiserslautern, South West Germany (from a colleague) where I rented a room from a local German family.

Chris Wilson Case Study image

As well as studying German, I worked at Kammgarnspinnerei (worsted yarn spinners) voluntarily which was part of my Scholarship agreement.  Although I was very grateful to the Trust for the £50 per month I received, it was often difficult to budget for food, board and other essentials during my six months abroad.  I was also unfortunate to damage my wrist whilst at work and for a short time it became necessary for my employers to pay me a small amount for Social Security benefits!

At the start of my six months I began working in the chemical laboratory but went through the whole process of wool sorting, scouring, carding, combing, dyeing and spinning.  Sadly the mill closed in the 1970’s but the lessons I learned through working there were invaluable.

After I had completed my six month scholarship, C L Wilson & Co engaged with German contacts and set up a trade, increasing our customers and expanding the business.

I am now 65 years old, retired and I have kept in contact with the many friends I met in Germany, including the main trade customer (now in his 80’s) I dealt with through work all those years ago (which often provides an ideal opportunity to use my spoken German!).

Christopher Wilson Case Study

Kaiserslautern, Germany- a city in southwest Germany, located in the Bundesland of Rhineland-Palatinate at the edge of the Palatinate Forest

The John Speak Trust Scholarship was of great benefit to me personally and also to my career; a very useful and informative six months.  I continue to speak German on a regular basis and would recommend the John Speak Language Trust to any language student wishing to improve their language skills and pursue a career to benefit the UK export trade.


Christopher James Wilson

I am the founder of the John Speak Language Trust.

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